Claude Lawrence Trio: Presenting

Lawrence on alto is joined by Wilber Morris and Denis Charles for a trio date that is easy to recommend to fans of Ornette’s trio work. Lawrence studied with Coleman but is no imitator, his musical relationship to Coleman being like Jackie McLean’s to Bird. This is his debut as a leader but he’s been at it a while and it shows. The music develops unhurriedly as these veterans, who know each other well, move through a program of effective originals. I’ve never heard Charles or Morris sound better. Lawrence alternates melodic passages with little jagged bursts, an Ornettish formula that works for him because he uses it to express himself, and it is impressive how well he sustains interest throughout the set, rarely repeating his own ideas, let alone anyone else’s.

A lot of free jazz is so serious it exhausts even the sympathetic listener, but this record is like a sustained thoughtful smile.